The former Director General of Rwanda Cooperative Agency (RCA), Damien Mugabo, was recently replaced during a cabinet meeting that sat on 10/08/2016, replaced by Apollo Munanura who was the Team Leader-Skills Development at Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
Established in 2008, RCA has the mandate of building capacities for the management of cooperatives.
The decision was followed by contested arguments among some analysts who said it was time for him to leave while another school of thought held that he could remain in the office as he had brought positive transformations in the performance of cooperatives across the country.
In an interview with IGIHE, Damien Mugabo has demonstrated that reforming performance of cooperatives in Rwanda was almost starting from zero but argued that they are gradually progressing nowadays.
“We started establishing the association of cooperatives inside the country in 2005 after the government’s approval of the decision. We also assessed laws guiding cooperatives and realized they mismatched with our vision. In 2007 the law was reformed and stressed the need for a committee to execute resolutions. There after we established RCA in 2008,”he said.
Mugabo said that after establishing laws guiding the performance of cooperatives and auditing committee was set to be followed by reforms among cooperatives.
Since then, he says, cooperatives were established along with other associations.
“Cooperatives are independent bodies. They need self regulation as they evolve to the extent that the government will no longer control them like some other institutions,” he said.
“We support cooperatives since they bring together many people following good managerial. If the wealth of many people is not audited well, frauds are likely to be rampant by some cunning individuals. Establishment of a good monitoring system was among the achievements registered especially building the management and monitoring structures. These structures today exist and improving cooperatives’ performance ,” he added.
Mugabo explains that people diverting cooperatives’ property was among the challenges that had to be addressed.
“First of all the section in charge of following up such cases needs capacities to carry out audits. Today the government allows RCA to investigate crimes in cooperatives. It is a great act which means we can investigate wherever we hear problems, address them and commit culprits to courts,” he said.
“People should act in accordance with rules and regulations and the errant ones get punished,” he added.
Mugabo says he will disclose areas that need to be prioritized to the successor adding that Rwandans came to understand the value of cooperatives during his leadership.
“We are delighted that Rwandans participated in the government programs of joining cooperatives. We had only 1000 licensed cooperatives in 2005 from across the country while others were operating haphazardly without certification. Today we have at least 7000 cooperatives which demonstrates that Rwandans welcomed the message conveyed by the government,” he said.
“Currently all Rwandans are aware of benefits of cooperatives. We know that some cooperative members become dishonest but people think big when they join cooperatives. When your contribution is defrauded once, you strive to avoid its reoccurrence and know how to create own jobs which has become a common spirit among Rwandans,” he added.
Damien Mugabo was the head of Rwanda Public Procurement Authority (RPPA) in 2008 and led the 3rd population demography census in 2002.